March 30, 2009

My Apologies

Lori, who is brilliant and keeps me grounded, read my earlier blog entitled "For Mormons Only" and had some choice words. She reminded me of a principal by which I try to abide, namely that I must never, under any set of circumstances, ever be the reason someone's faith is diminished. I would do nearly anything—anything but lose my integrity—to be completely assured that God lives, that Christ died for my sins, and that there are absolute truths that, like a line of mileposts, will direct me home. The fact that I can't achieve this shouldn't be taken as a sign that those who can have been deceived. Since I believe uncertainty to be a necessary human condition, I must accept the possibility that I've been deceived—or at the very least, that the truth is so complicated that all of us are right.

However, here is a point I seemed to have missed or didn't emphasize sufficiently: Even when I'm wrong (for example, let's assume I'm wrong about Prop 8) sometimes I'd rather be wrong and suffer the consequences than to embrace the alternative. I've mentioned in a previous blog that if I were given Abraham's choice between sparing my son or earning some greater gift from God, I would choose my son and not think twice about the decision. That seems fair, doesn't it?

Sorry again. I hope I didn't offend anyone.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Alan, but I don't agree with Lori. There are times and circumstances in which our faith is harmful. Sometimes our faith is misplaced. Sometimes it is presumptious. Sometimes it is wielded by the self deceived as a defense against facing the truth. It also can make people vulnurable to fraud and invulnurable to argument and evidence.

Personally, I have struggled with whether faith is as good a thing as the Christian scriptures indicate. I find myself truly frightened when I hear incredibly flawed reasoning coming out of Christians who have been raised to believe in God and told that doubt is the greatest evil.

Joe Huster

Alan Bahr said...

Joe, you make a strong argument that makes me feel awfully conflicted. While I agree that people occasionally employ faith-based mental gynmastics to reach decisions that, in the end, are harmful, I don't feel it's not my place to judge. People like Bill Maher drive me nuts, even though I agree with much of what he says, but he's just so militantly anti-faith that I don't see him as helpful.

I suppose that what I want is something that we may never have and that is a world where: 1) people of faith count themselves lucky for what they have, but don't condemn non-believers as heathens, and 2) people without faith are confident in their rationality, but don't resort to calling believers stupid.

Although I didn't cross that line, I kind of tiptoed in that direction. I think that once we start from the premise that believers aren't idiots and non-believers aren't sinners, we might find some common ground and appreciation.

By the way, I have really enjoyed reading your postings. The three best classes I ever took were taught by philosophy professors. There's something about how you guys think that's compelling.